30 Mar 2016

The People's Assembly Against Austerity is holding a march for health, homes, jobs and education on Saturday 16 april 2016, why should greens support it?


Climate change and the human-driven forces behind it are spreading new diseases. As eco systems all over the world are disrupted and destroyed to extract raw materials and to create the infrastructure for this extraction; and then also, for manufacturing and expanding human settlement, some organisms will move into new environments. This is nothing new, it has been happening for centuries, it is a process accelerated with and by increasing international trade. It causes climate change which alters the geographic ranges of organisms and it impacts human populations and/or their food animals and plants as diseases and pests may encounter species that have historically evolved no resistance to them.

Additionally the exploitation of new environments, coupled with climate change can bring about increased catastrophic events: floods, droughts, landslides wild fires and storms to name a few.

The icing on the cake, or the shit in the sandwich, may be loss of biodiversity, many species will be made extinct. This has moral implications, raising the question of what right homo sapiens has to give its existence, comfort and cultural needs precedence over the existence of some other animals, plants and slime moulds. It has practical implications as well; we may not know of the potential medicinal value of a threatened species until after it has gone; and we may not know the importance of species for others in its ecosystem. An example being the Mauritian tree whose seeds could only germinate if they had been swallowed by a dodo and had their casing softened in the dodo’s crop.

All this means we need our Health Services, and the scientific research on which they are based, more than ever. We will also need our emergency services more. These services need to be available to as many as need them, publicly provided and free at the point of use.

Climate change produces refugees because it will destroy some peoples’ habitats; their housing and/or the lands or waters that they need for food. It also generates resource wars, which often have the effect of making human survival in some areas perilous in the extreme and degrading environments so that they are no longer habitable. Refugees tend to up in very low grade housing, at its most extreme in tents, shacks and shipping containers. One step up from that, in Britain, they’ll likely end up in an underprivileged and vulnerable position in a housing market rigged by the government against poor people in general.

Social housing provision In Britain is being squeezed out of existence and as precedence is given to profit-motivated developers of housing for the rich, a process of ’social cleansing’ is taking place in some areas. The effects of this are to create a housing distribution which is almost exactly opposite to one which makes any kind of environmental sense. Instead of housing people near to their work, it maximises the amount of commuting that they do, and the amount of carbon emissions, whilst minimising the potential for using low carbon forms of transport such as walking and cycling. As this travelling time cuts out large slices of what could be leisure or family time a more sensible policy of providing affordable housing near people’s’ work could be an issue where housing activists could make common cause, since travelling time is effectively often work time being given to employers for free.

Then there is the question of what kind of housing we need as well as who it’s for and where it is. Often when climate change is discussed, the building of new energy providing devices is emphasised, but emission reduction also entails using less energy.  This could mean a shorter commute but it must also entail far better home insulation, possibly incorporating forms of micro generation, roof top solar panels being an obvious example. Other means of energy saving in housing could be possible, such as sharing some facilities between households, but other technical innovations may be possible or could be invented and developed. These possibilities have implications for jobs and education.

Creation of a low carbon economy could involve the creation of millions of jobs, maybe more than the 1m initial target in the ccc pamphlet, expansion of the health and housing sectors have already been mentioned, but there are many other areas which could expand: renewables, recycling, alternative transport modes, a renovation of a canal system as transport, the re-extension of rail, wind power for shipping, localised agricultural production  and yet again more scientific research.

Education could be added to the list of job sectors that should be expanded to create and maintain a low carbon economy. The school sector has a role to play, but so does adult, further and higher education both in educating and training workers for new and expanded industries; and if the transition to these is to be just, workers in those industries that will decline may well need retraining. Since the creation of a low carbon economy, will involve continuing innovations based on scientific and technological research the education it needs is a flexible one where people can move in and out of work to retrain as the economy develops and changes.
Achieving this is not just about expanding that which now exists, it is about redefining, the relation of education to industries, communities, science and to the local and central state. In many ways education needs to be autonomous, the types of teaching and research should not be dictated or restricted by commercial or sectional interests, which are now far too easily able to purchase the types of education and research that suit them. However education needs to have some accountability to the communities where it is located which means elected representation for trades unions and community organisations, (including the parents of school students), precisely to prevent  education institutions only serving one part of a community or one firm.

The public education needed to develop a low carbon economy is now under attack and needs defending.

18 Mar 2016

George Osborne wants to take money away from people living with disabilities.

George Osborne wants to take money away from people living with disabilities. [1]

The support he’s slashing, known as the Personal Independence Payment, is used by disabled people to help them live an independent life - for aids to help with things like washing and dressing. [2] In other words, money needed to live with dignity.

Conservative MPs are panicking. Some are already saying publicly that they don’t support taking this money away. [3] George Osborne is looking isolated, and one thing 38 Degrees members can do right now is show the public are against his cruel plans too.

We need to move fast. If thousands of us get behind a huge petition today, we can force George Osborne to do the right thing and keep this crucial support for disabled people.

Please will you add your name now?
The UK is better than this - better than taking money away from people who need it most.Taking away help to do the most basic things and live an independent life.

38 Degrees members believe in fairness, and when our government is hurting people who most need support we won’t stand by. Last Autumn, George Osborne tried to cut tax credits. This would have made many struggling families worse off. But 38 Degrees members mounted a massive campaign to stop him. And, together, we helped stopped that cut. [4]

People power can stop this cruel cut too.The more of us who rally in defence of people with disabilities, the more toxic we can make this for George Osborne, and the faster we can force him to back down.

So let’s get this petition going straight away. If you agree that George Osborne’s cuts are just plain cruel, add your name to the petition demanding he scraps them now:

Thanks for being involved,

Bex, David, James, Blanche and the 38 Degrees team

PS: This isn’t just a small cut to people's budgets - it means people with disabilities and their families losing around £70 a week. It means losing the lifeline. Conservative MP Andrew Percy says these cuts hit “exactly the wrong people.” [5] He’s right! Add your name to the petition now:

PPS: If you or a loved one are likely to be affected by these cuts, there is support available.
Disability Rights UK have a useful factsheet on PIP:
Carers UK can provide help and advice:
The Citizens Advice Bureau can offer information on various benefits and where other financial help may be available:

[1] Guardian: Disability benefit cuts not acceptable, Conservative rebels tell Osborne:
BBC: Government not backing down on disability cuts despite minister's words:
[2] Personal Independence Payment overview:
Guardian: Benefit cuts threaten independent living for thousands of disabled people:
[3] The Telegraph: Budget 2016: George Osborne faces mass Tory rebellion over disability cuts:
And more and more Conservative MPs are speaking out over Twitter:
Sarah Wollaston MP:
Michael Fabricant MP:
[4] 38 Degrees Blog: Tax Credits Win!
[5] Evening Standard: Chancellor faces ‘open rebellion’ over benefits cut for the disabled:

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17 Mar 2016

Emergency Protest: Hands Off Our Schools, No Forced Academies Assemble 5pm, 23 March 2016 Westminster Cathedral march to Department for Education

The Tories have accelerated their attack on our education with Osborne's announcement yesterday that all schools will be forced to become academies. The National Union of Teachers have called an emergency demonstration in London next Wednesday (details below). Here's a useful article explaining why academies are damaging our education - click here.

This week also saw the High Court reject the governments injunction on the proposed NUT industrial action and Tuesday saw a solid strike turn out from teachers in Further Education. 

Emergency Protest: Hands Off Our Schools, No Forced Academies
Assemble 5pm, Westminster Cathedral march to Department for Education


This also makes the national demonstration on Saturday 16 April more important than ever. Please keep inviting your friends, sharing on Facebook and get involved with the mobilisation in your area. 

March for Health, Homes, Jobs & Education
Saturday 16 March, London 
Details here


This Weekend is the Stand Up to Racism, Refugees Welcome National Demonstration. Saturday 19 March. Assemble at 12pm Portland Place W1A 1AA.

Please let us know if you can get down to this and help us with the People's Assembly stall. Contact,

Also this Sunday 20 March, we will be holding a Mega-Stall in Camden to promote the big demo on 16 April

15 Mar 2016

Greens have supported the West Hendon campaign THE ESTATE WE'RE IN - 60 minutes BBC1 Tuesday 15th March 2016 10:45pm

Greens have supported the West Hendon campaign
THE ESTATE WE'RE IN - 60 minutes BBC1 Tuesday 15th March 2016 10:45pm

A North London council estate is to be demolished as part of a multi-million pound regeneration. But will the residents get a place to live on the new development as promised?

Situated beside the beautiful Welsh Harp Reservoir, the West Hendon Estate was built in the 1960's to provide housing for families on low incomes. Today, the local council have deemed that the estate's 'grotty' buildings are beyond repair, and, in partnership with private developers, the estate is being demolished to make way for a multi-million pound regeneration.

For many of the residents, the regeneration has caused uncertainty and stress. Council tenant Katrina, who has lived on the estate all her life, has been told that she and her daughter are being evicted from their flat. Pensioner Joe, will have to sell the maisonette that he has lived in for 30 years and saved up to purchase under right to buy. If the council do not increase their offer he will have to leave London and the three generations of his family who live locally, to afford a home elsewhere.

Filmed over a year, 'The Estate We're In' follows home-owners and council tenants as they fight to save their homes and campaign against the regeneration, which they claim is forcing low-income families out of London. Council leaders argue that there is no public money available and that private investment is the only way to supply much needed housing.

Through the experiences of the residents, 'The Estate We're In' gives an intimate perspective on the housing crisis and raises broader questions: What makes a community? What kind of cities do we want to live in? And are the rights of the poor being ignored for the benefit of the rich?
acknowledgements to Martin Francis

13 Mar 2016

Art problem in Brent

Former teacher calls for valuable art to be returned for pupils
Paintings by Mary Fedden, worth up to £40,000, were removed by council during financial scandal and handed to a gallery

see full story at


8 Mar 2016

Can you take a moment to think of all the local NHS services you or your family use?

38 Degrees Logo

Can you take a moment to think of all the local NHS services you or your family use? It could be your NHS walk-in centre, the A&E in town or a specialist service local to your area. Imagine if that service was handed to a private company like G4S or Serco. Decisions about your health could become about profit, rather than the care you need.

A growing number of our local NHS services are being shut down or privatised. [1] But lots of them are still standing proud and serving our communities. The difference between the services that get shut down quietly and those that continue to save lives is us. People. Across the country, doctors’ surgeries, A&Es and cancer services are all still open for everyone, thanks to local people working together to stand up for them. [2]

The UK government make the big policies, but it’s local decision makers who decide whether it is the NHS or Serco who run our health service down the road. [3] So it’s locally – area by area – that we can stop it being handed to profit-hungry companies.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Small groups of us are going to meet for coffee mornings, an evening drink or pub lunches all across the country. We’ll talk about the best parts of our NHS and the steps we could take to help protect our local services. Together, we’re going to build a national movement of ordinary people ready to stand up for our NHS.

So, please can you join a NHS meetup with other 38 Degrees members in Brent Central? 
It could be at a cafe, a pub, your living room, a church hall - whatever works best. The 38 Degrees office team will give you all the support you need to get the word out and make your event a success.

To get started, please click the button below to chat to other local 38 Degrees membersand help decide on a date and place that suits you best:


At the 38 Degrees meetups, we could make plans on how to keep our local NHS walk-in centre out of Serco’s hands. Or we might decide to write to our local NHS hospital and ask them to meet a group of us to talk about changes they’re making. Or we might simply agree to stay in touch, or even hold a street party as the weather gets warmer to celebrate the NHS.

Just coming together to have these chats will make politicians and private companies nervous. This starts with you, Peter. You can be part of the conversation our communities are waiting for.

Please can you come along to a meetup with other 38 Degrees members in Brent Central who care about our NHS?


Thanks for being involved,

Blanche, Nat, Rachel and the 38 Degrees team

PS: Joining a chat like this is more difficult for some people than others. People can be shy, really busy or hesitant to jump in. It's easy to hope that some charismatic local expert will step up to the plate and offer to kick things off so you don't have to. But all of us have something to offer, even if it's simply the fact that we know someone who has used a local NHS service.

There are so many wonderful 38 Degrees members just like you who don’t want to see this national treasure of ours starved of funds, managed poorly or privatised bit by bit. People who believe the NHS can and should serve all of us.

Members like Andrew from Exeter, who got together with other local 38 Degrees members to keep his local NHS walk-in centre open. Or Craig in Cumbria, who started gathering support from local people to stop the number of ambulance services being reduced across his county. Or the hundreds of mums, dads, students, doctors and nurses who came together in Lewisham to stop their hospital being shut down. [2] These stories prove it's possible to protect our NHS. Next it could be you.

PPS: If you’ve got any other questions, chances are the answers can be found here:

[1] The Guardian: Far more NHS contracts going to private firms than ministers admit, figures show:
The Guardian: Surge in privatisation threatening NHS treatment, unions say:
[2] 38 Degrees news: Lewisham: an incredible victory:
38 Degrees news: NHS victory in Exeter:
38 Degrees Campaigns By You: We demand emergency ambulances are not reduced across the North West:
[3] The local decision making group is called a Clinical Commissioning Group. This is made up of doctors, health experts and managers. You can read more about them here:
NHS Clinical Commissioners: About CCGs:
BBC News: The Changing NHS: